Monday, April 2, 2012

My Favorite Things Guest Designer Contest - Keep Calm & Hop On!!

Greetings!!  It's another fabulous month over at My Favorite Things as a new Guest Designer Challenge has been issued!!  This month's theme is "Do The Bunny Hop".  Which can be super wide open to many interpretations.  So I'm going to give you my loose thought process on this one, because I must admit it was just that...a process to figure out what I wanted to do.  I really like to take the theme and use the literal theme as my jumping off point but also try and create a play on it as well.  So I knew I wanted to do something with bunnies and the word hop.  But we don't really celebrate Easter in my house so I didn't want to go too specific so I went with the bunnies, the word 'hop', and decided to incorporate a nice spring theme to tie it all together.  I started on Pinterest.  Just poking around getting inspiration for color combinations, spring themed creations, verbiage, etc.  After doing that for a few minutes I started to ruminate and the ideas started to come.  I found a SUPER cute pattern for stuffed animal style felt "Peep" bunnies and chickies.  So cute but not quite appropriate for this particular challenge.  But I do love the shape of Peeps bunnies - there's something just so quintessential and sweet about that generic bunny shape.  So I went to my desk and started playing around with my MFT Die-namics trying to figure out how I could create a bunny shape.  Here's what I used:
I know, I know...the two die graphics don't look much like a bunny, do they? about now? 
This is a 12"x12" MDF shadow box/canvas that I got at my local Michael's.  It becomes a shadow box if you flip it around and use it the other way.  I used the larger and medium hearts from the Hearts-A-Plenty Die-namic to create my bunny feet, the small and most recognizable MFT heart from the trio as the ears and two of the smaller Oval STAX Die-namics set 1 and Oval STAX Die-namics set 2 as the body for each of my 15 sweet, hopping creatures! 
I started out by going through my color coordinated scrap containers, pulling random papers together trying to go for a super "mixey-matchy" theme.  But that wasn't so much working out as it quickly became too busy.  But I did three (not shown here) as my trial bunnies.  I played around with the placement of the hearts, smaller feet, bigger ears?  Medium feet and small ears?  Large ears, medium feet?  You see where I'm going with this.  I began by using regular cardstock for the bunny bodies.  They were cute but lacked some...texture and dimension.  I loved the idea of using felt but thought better of it as I knew I wanted to stamp their cute bunny faces and painting/stamping on felt can be temperamental at best.  And then it came to me!

I recently placed an order for my favorite corrugated cardboard which comes, naturally, in Kraft but is now also available in white!  Which is so versatile and when run through a die cutting machine flattens just enough not to lose it's wonderful textured quality but makes it flat enough to do some stamping on it without losing pieces of your images due to the wavy nature of the medium.  But remember, I wanted texture and depth so in keeping with that need I cut 30 ovals out of the flattened, white corrugated cardboard.  I distressed each edge of all 30 using my Vintage Photo distress ink and an ink blending tool.  I then adhered two of the ovals together giving the initial body of my bunny more "puffiness".  

I wanted harmony within my project but didn't want to limit it to a monochromatic scheme, or all pastels, or all brights.  So I went with a rainbow theme making 3 bunnies each in five colors; red, orange, yellow, green and blue.   I didn't want a ton of straight solid color so I opted to use my solid cardstock as a body backing for each of my corrugated double layered oval bodies.  So for each bunny in it's color category, I used the same solid color cardstock - regardless of the designer papers that I was using for the bunny legs/feet and ears.

The Reds:
The Oranges:
The Yellows:
The Greens:
The Blues:
Once I had decided on my bunny shape and the color "scheme", I had to figure out how to make a tiny and sweet bunny face.  So I pulled out all of my MFT stamps looking for the perfect tiny stamps to help me.  And, of COURSE, I was able to do so since there are so many amazingly versatile stamps that can do double duty!  The eyes are the period from the Monogram Alphabet set and the nose is the tiny heart from the newly released Umbrella Stamp and Die Set.  I stamped the eyes using Momento ink in brown and the nose was inked using Brilliance Craft ink in Red Rocket.  I did each face one at a time so that I could coat the eyes and nose in clear embossing powder and heat set. (if you wait too long to do this step the ink dries and the embossing powder won't stick)  I did this to add shine and texture but to also safeguard any smudging.  I hand drew the whiskers on each bunny using a Micron pen and created the more lifelike look in their eyes using ivory acrylic paint and the end of a very tiny paintbrush.  I would dip the end of the brush (not the end that has bristles...just the handle end) into the paint, dab a bit off onto my craft sheet and then create a large dot on the eye and then a smaller one angled a bit down from the original.  I like how each one came out just a bit different giving the bunnies just slightly different expressions from each other.  

Each piece of the bunny; body and backing, ears, and legs/feet was edged using the Vintage Photo Distress Ink.  Taking this extra step just ensures more dimension and texture and I find that it's well worth it.  I adhered my medium, scalloped heart just inside of the largest heart and then hand stitched their toes using black embroidery floss.  I curled each of the bunnies left ears around the handle of my skinny paintbrush to give them one floppy ear.  I mean really, is there anything sweeter than a loppy and floppy eared bunny??  I did also move the paper for the feet around in my hands a tiny bit, rolling them in just slightly giving them some "movement" if you will.  After all, they are bunnies all hopping around in their beautiful grass on a nice spring day!!  

And speaking of grass, it's all cut, one piece at at time using the handle of the newly released Umbrella Die-namics.  
Yes...I cut out 150 umbrella handles using a large variety of solid and patterned green papers to create the individual blades of grass.  After cutting the 150 umbrella handles, I then took my super sharp, small snips and sliced each handle in half only cutting about half way down the umbrella handle so that the two pieces stayed attached at the bottom.  Then using one edge of my scissor blade I very gently curled the grass as one would curl a piece of curly ribbon on a gift.  But with paper you have to be super gentle so as to not tear the paper.  I adhered the blades of grass using my "red-liner" style tape.  Only it's not red liner - it's clear and has a white paper backing so it's tearable making it easier to work with.  I'd pull about 7-10 pieces, depending on the space, adhere each blade to the tape so that the backing of the tape was facing me and the sticky side was facing away from me.  I'd then lay the grass cluster down on my project in between where I was going to position my bunnies.  I didn't want to put the grass completely across the board as I was afraid the added bulk wouldn't let my bunnies lie nicely next to each other.  So while there is some grass behind each bunny it's not clear across and you'll see why in a minute. 

After I completed the three rows of grass, I needed something to cover the ends where the grass adheres to the board.  I used Chocolate MFT Felt to represent the earth under the grass.  I used the newly released pinking edge (its the skinniest one on the top of the graphic below) (LOVE!) to cut my felt.  I thought it really flowed nicely with the angle of the grass.
In keeping with the theme and trying to use a play on the words as well I decided that I wanted to use a cute phrase and have one added surprise in my project.  I have always loved the phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On" and I've seen it used in lots of places in the last few years.  I chose to twist it a bit and used the phrase "Keep Calm & Hop On".  I used the By The Letters Die-namics to cut my phrase out of a cereal box that was headed for the recycle bin.  I wanted to use something sturdy like thin chipboard because once I had cut my sentiment, I coated it in black Colorbox ink, coated it in black embossing powder and heat set it.  I then laid my sentiment out onto a piece of wax paper and coated each letter with Glossy Accents letting it dry overnight setting in a super fabulous, patent leather-like shine.  It came out EXACTLY as I wanted it to and I love it!
It matches oh so perfectly with my darling bunnies which in and of actually HOP around!!!  I decided to make them completely interchangeable and moveable by adhering each bunny with Velcro dots!!  
(back of red bunny with felt ears)
(space for bunny in between grass)
Yes...believe me my children have already had a blast (post photographing, of course!) hopping the bunnies all over the board in multiple color combinations and mixtures!  They even hopped them entirely off the display board to have a puppet show (big in my house at the moment) with them!  The bunny body pieces are all adhered with hot glue so they are super sturdy and can actually be played with.  
As my last decorating bits, I pulled out my MFT Royal Rose (red felt and paper, orange felt, yellow felt, turquoise felt and paper) and Solid Bracket Border Die-namics and made just a few tiny flowers to embellish the areas through the grass and around the bunnies.  I cut some out of felt and some out of paper and snipped the majority of the rolled flower off in order to keep it really small when I rolled it.  As for the Solid Bracket Border flowers (tiny orange, tiny blue), I also snipped it about 3/4 of the way down in order to keep it a really tiny little bud flower.  I rolled the bright green flower totally by hand (no die used) and added some pearls to just a few of the flowers.  My last touch was to add a sun using the tiny flower from the Notched Tag Die-namics set that is displayed in the upper right hand corner finished off with a baby brad in the center.  
I truly thank you for sticking in on with this very long blog post!  I had a fantastic time coming up with this project and I thank Jody and Joanne for always challenging us with a wonderfully creative new theme each and every month!!

Crafty Hugs!


Holly AKA KopyKat said...

Wow, that is so fabulous! Love all the dies you used and this must have taken FOREVER! but it is so cute and so worth it.

Chris said...

that's a lot of bunnies! great job Meredith.

Karen Motz said...

Love this!!! And I love that your kids wanna play with it and it's sturdy enough to stand up to kid play!!!

Glennis F said...

All I can say is Fantastic!

Annette Allen said...

oh my stink-in cute...

Jenn Borjeson said...

Wow. WOWOWOWOWOW! Meredith, this is absolutely amazing. You totally rock!

Lisa H. said...

YOU, rock!!! seriously, rock and so does this project. I love how much time and energy you put into your projects. This is beyond it!!!

wendy said...

whow really cool project! lots of elements ..fab!

Tara Godfrey said...

Oh my word, Meredith, this is an incredibly CUTE bevy of bunnies! WOW! I can't even fathom how much work, time, energy, went into creating this project...boy, oh boy, you really thought of absolutely everything...You SO ROCKED this challenge!!!

Jodi Collins said...

NO WAY! Girlie, this is AMAZING!!! Hopping Amazing!!! What a piece of art!!!

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